PULSE drama ends up in crumpled mess

PULSE Fringe Festival '08: Beachy Head, Analogue Productions, New Wolsey Studio, May 30 First off a caveat; I do understand that a 'work in development' - such as this production - entails a certain amount of unfinished business, a degree of tidying up in direction or tweaking of the occasion line.

PULSE Fringe Festival '08: Beachy Head, Analogue Productions, New Wolsey Studio, May 30

First off a caveat; I do understand that a 'work in development' - such as this production - entails a certain amount of unfinished business, a degree of tidying up in direction or tweaking of the occasion line.

Secondly, a caveat's caveat; I really rather resent a 'work in development' that has given so little thought to the basics of plot and narrative line that those responsible for the embryonic fluid seek guidance from the audience.

Such is Beachy Head which deals with the events and aftermath of a suicide from the popular jumping off point on the south coast. As presented by Analogue Productions, such a troubling and fascinating conclusion to a life becomes a mess of body parts without a structure - and certainly minus a spinal column to at least initially hold the body together.


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Instead we are presented with fragments of what are admittedly really innovative uses of multi media techniques and clever stage directions and scene changes. In particular, the company makes such great use of video, audio, mirrors and lighting to suggest that these are a certain number of technicians in search of a decent plot.

There are also a fair number of interesting characterisations on offer and individual characters do momentarily engage with the audience - only to then disappear from view.

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What these fragments lack is a skeleton of character development so that by the end I didn't care about, much less understood, the reasons for, the demise of Stephen Mitchell (I think that was his name) - or for that matter his wife for not taking his literary struggles seriously or even the pathetic pathologist and his dating failures.

I felt annoyed for the team that I felt such little engagement given the huge amount of effort they were flinging in my direction. For one glorious moment I thought they were going to get it right by focussing on the said body examiner. He seemed to have moved from being a cold, professional recorder of the results of such acts of self- destruction, to empathically understanding why people consider topping themselves as a result of his own emotional sterility and amorous disasters.

But the idea was then dropped like a stone over a cliff.

Clearly, Analogue Productions hopes that this play will fly. Unless they stop messing about with the quasi-democratic stunts that we saw this night and invest in some playwriting skills, Beachy Head will probably end up as a crumpled and bloody mess. And what a waste that would be.

Paul Simon

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